Retiring Vinci bows out with defeat in Rome

Roberta Vinci

Former US Open finalist and home favourite Roberta Vinci bowed out of tennis with a first-round defeat at the Italian Open on Monday.

Vinci fell 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 to Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic to bring her stellar career to a close.

The 35-year-old from Taranto – who received a wilcard entry to play in the tournament – thrilled the home crowd by taking the first set, but Krunic took control of the match in the second and held off a late charge in the final set to seal victory.

“I tried to say, ‘Okay, this is probably the last day, so try to enjoy, and try to smile,” Vinci told reporters after the match. “I was happy about the crowd, and my parents, my team and all my friends were there. I lost, I know, but I was happy – and this is what I wanted.”

Reflecting on her career, Vinci said: “I had a difficult and different style of tennis, but you have to stay in good form, you have to run a lot, and you have to think about every single shot.

“Now, I can relax, and I don’t think about the slice and dropshots and everything. Next is ice cream, coffee, shopping – no racquets, no tennis!”

For Krunic it’s the second time she’s had to face a veteran retiring in front of her home crowd and come out on top. She also did the same against Kimiko Date when the Japanese star retired in Tokyo last year.

“It was definitely difficult,” Krunic said. “This is the second time in my career that I found myself in this situation.”

Also in action was Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who had too much firepower for former World No 1 Victoria Azarenka, wrapping up a 6-0, 6-3 victory in one hour and 14 minutes.

Osaka moves on to face top seed Simona Halep of Romania in the second round.

Other first-round winners on the day included American Madison Keys and Great Britain’s Johanna Konta.